Do This Well

Every so often a significant life event comes along that is out of the ordinary and demands more from us than habitual, automatic responses we usually employ during the routine of daily life. Examples of these events can range anywhere from:

  • An major illness or diagnosis of yourself or a loved one
  • A divorce
  • The impending death of someone close
  • A conflict at work or in a community that has potential to get ugly

No matter what the event is, it’s usually out of our normal routine, emotionally charged, and demands our engagement.

In the past I use to react to these situations based on whatever emotion I was feeling at the time.  Although it was easy, it never produced the outcome I wanted.

About 6 years ago I found myself in a leadership position in the middle of a large community disagreement.  Sides were being taken up and I could see early that it would be getting ugly before it got better.  In the midst of the rapid decline, I remember thinking to myself that although this is going to be a difficult, emotional situation, as far as for me, I want to “do this well”.

For me the standard that I use to define “well” are the principles and guidance found in scripture.  With scripture as my standard, I have a benchmark to measure whether or not I am treating others with respect, understanding, and grace; whether or not I am “doing this well”.

By deciding to “do this well” early in a bad situation, I am mindful and deliberate in my choice of words and actions.  I am constantly aware of keeping my emotions in check and not lashing out and saying or doing something hurtful that could have long-term relational implications well after the situation is over.

Does deciding that I want to “Do this well” mean I handle everything perfectly?  Not in my case!  Does it mean that people will never get upset with me?  Hardly!  What I strive for in these situations is for people involved to say, “I may not agree with what he said, or how he handled that, but I will say, he was respectful to me and was not out to intentionally cause harm to me or others involved.”

“He did that well.”

We are blessed to be able to choose how we respond to a situation, so why not decide to “do this well” during life’s difficult situations?  Why not choose to treat people with respect, understanding, and grace?

The next time you face a challenging life situation, decide early that you’re going to do this well.  Not only will you set yourself up to see the positive and hidden blessings that exist within the situation, you’ll also come out of it better equipped to handle the next challenging situation life has for you.

Do this well!


An Opportunity to Practice

When I think of someone practicing, I think of a golfer going to the driving range, or in musician dedicating time to practice with their chosen instrument.  But what if you want to work on your human relations and communications skills, or develop some personal habits to live a healthier lifestyle?  How do you practice those skills?

Suppose I told you that you could practice skills like these during the course of your day, without setting aside a specific time to do so.  Interested?  Read on.

Every day we have untold opportunity’s to practice a behavior or develop a habit, simply by actively seeking out opportunity’s to do so.  For example:

  • Do you have a co-worker you struggle to communicate with? See every interaction with that person as a practice session to try a new techniques or method and improve your communication skills.
  • Are you trying to overcome shyness? Look for opportunities to practice overcoming shyness by starting up a conversation with a new person each day, or simply up start by saying “hello” to someone new.
  • What if you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier? Look at each meal, snack, or craving as an opportunity to practice a healthy alternative.

What personal skills that you’re trying to develop would benefit from more practice?  Have you identified it?  Good!  How look for opportunities in your everyday routine to practice those skills.  However, if you really want to speed up your progress, seek out multiple opportunities every day.

Once you start looking, you’ll find numerous opportunities to practice the habits and behaviors you want to improve.  Before you know it, you’ll find yourself more competent and growing ever-closer to becoming the person you strive to be.

Choose the Real Thing Instead of a Cheap Imitation

If cost were no issue, which would you rather have:

  • An authentic Rolex or a cheap knock off
  • The Hope diamond or a rhinestone
  • An authentic painting by Rembrandt or an imitation

We all want the real thing instead of a cheap imitation, right?  Then why do we so willingly exchange real, authentic, in-person interactions with those closest to us, for a cheap imitation of social media and electronic communication with people who aren’t even there?

Before we go any further, let me just say that I am not against social media, e-mail, texting, or any other form of electronic communication.  I use many of them myself, and think they are great tools for communicating and staying connected.  However, I do think they are a barrier to communication when we use these tools while in the presence of our loved ones, taking our attention away from them, in order to observe the lives of other people that aren’t even present.

We’ve all seen the couple or group setting together at a restaurant or public place, where someone in the party has their face buried in their smart phone, totally ignoring everyone around them.  They obviously think enough of the person or people they’re with to be seen in public together.  Yet the smart phone appears to be more interesting, more important, than the people they are physically present with.

What kind of message does this send to the people we’re with when we consciously choose to interrupt our interaction with them in order to answer the slightest noise or vibration from our smart phone?  Does this make them feel valued, appreciated, respected, or loved?  Perhaps, but I doubt it.

One of my greatest experiences of someone showing me value and respect was early in my career, before smart phones were even popular.  I was new in my position and needed guidance from Anne, an expert in her department who was in high demand as a senior talent at our organization.  I scheduled some time on her calendar and was sitting in her office as she was explaining how our systems and applications work.  During our meeting her phone rang, but Anne didn’t budge.  Normally, people in our organization would have just answered the phone, regardless of whether someone was sitting in their office, so I was kind of expecting her to do likewise.  After a couple of rings I said, “Did you want to get that?”  Her answer blew me away.  Still ignoring the ringing phone, she said, “No.  I’m talking with you right now.”

I can’t remember a time since then in my professional career when I have felt more acknowledged, valued, and appreciated than Anne made me feel that day, all by simply giving me her uninterrupted attention.

Is there someone in your life who would love to feel valued and appreciated by the gift of your uninterrupted attention?  Starting today, look for opportunities to unplug from the grid momentarily and simply enjoy being in the presence, the uninterrupted presence, of those you love and care for.  Choose the genuine, authentic experience of being an active participant who is focused on the person or people that are present with you, instead of settling for a cheap imitation of being a virtual spectator to someone else’s life who isn’t even there.  The people you’re with will notice.  Your actions will tell them that you value and care enough about them to give them your undivided attention.

What a great gift to give to others… as well as to receive.

Just Pick One

Have you ever been overwhelmed by a large number of choices available to a decision you had to make?  I have.

I can remember, several years ago, when my wife Mickey and I trying to decide what color to paint some rooms in our house.  There were so many choices at the paint counter.  Who knew there were 10,000 shades of brown to choose from! We couldn’t decide which color would be “just perfect”, so we ultimately put off the decision until the following year, where we would again repeat the process for a few more years.

The same thing has happened in selecting travel destinations.  There are so many great places to go that Mickey and I, in the past, had a hard time picking a destination.  As a result, we’d put off a decision and wind up not going anywhere for the entire year.  We missed out on a lot of opportunities to travel and see new things as a result of the indecision caused by being overwhelmed with choices.

Here’s something I’ve learned through these experiences:  It doesn’t matter that you pick the “perfect” color or travel destination.  What matters is that you make a choice and move ahead.

It helps to realize that for a large majority of the choices we have to make:

  • There isn’t just one, single, perfect choice.
  • If we make a bad choice, we can always re-evaluate and make another choice later.
  • The most important thing is to make a decision and take action.

Is there a decision you need to make where you’re overwhelmed with a large number of potential choices?  If so, realize that there are likely several great choices you can make, versus only a single, perfect choice.  So make a choice and take action today.  You can always make a different choice later.  However, you’ll probably find that the choice you initially made was indeed a good one, if not great or even perfect.